Classic rock band Sweeter than Honey, of New Jersey, and rock singer-songwriter Pete Herger, of Connecticut, are scheduled to perform at the seventh concert of the summer this Friday at Ossining’s Louis Engel Park on the waterfront. Many consider it an accomplishment because the concert series was almost cancelled. The Town and Village both slashed appropriate funding for the summer tradition until it was saved.
“We decided we would form a small group to try to fund it privately,” said Gareth Hougham, president of Hudson Valley Arts and Science, a non-profit organization that has helped in making sure the events could be funded.
The Village of Ossining’s Waterfront Vision Committee, which tries to attract more people to the waterfront, worked with Hougham to finance the series. He solicited donations to reach an initial $5,000 goal. Local residents submitted $20 to $50 donations electronically at HVAS’s website and via snail mail to his address. Eventually, Hougham said they surpassed that goal with residents’ help, a $1,000 donation from the Town of Ossining, and a $2,200 grant from the developer of Harbor Square, Martin Ginsburg.
“He’s a real supporter of the river and the arts,” Hougham said.
To date, they have raised more than $6,000. Hougham added that the Town’s donation played a major role in ensuring at the outset that the concerts would take place.
“It proved to be very important because it gave people confidence that it was actually going to happen,” he said. “No one wants to be the first to donate because you think it’s not going to materialize.”
Between 100 to 150 people—adults, children and even pets—have attended these concerts every Friday this summer, he said. And beyond the music, the goal in attracting residents has also been to showcase completed reconstruction of the ferry pier, landscaping and a walking trail adjacent to the water.
“I think more participation by residents has gotten more people aware of what’s going on at the waterfront,” said Sue Donnelly, Village Trustee and Village liaison to the Waterfront Vision Committee.
Donnelly said she expects the concert series to continue in years to come, but using residents’ help.
“People understand that there are budget restraints in every area,” she said. “I don’t see it getting much easier year by year because both the Village and Town both run lean and mean in the budgets now.”
But with the acquired money this year, Henry Atterbury, superintendent of Ossining’s Parks and Recreation department, successfully organized the events this summer. He chose bands that have a fan base and those willing to participate for not much in return.
“I want to make it very clear that each and every one of these bands really donated their time and great music and took just enough to pay their expenses to come to this concert series,” Donnelly said.
Hougham is hoping for more donations to extend the series into September. However, he and Donnelly both want people to mark their calenders for Sept. 17. They are planning a concert finale with several bands, vendors and the opening of a kayak launch following Ossining MATTERS’ annual Walk and Run event that day.
For those attending any future concerts when there’s rain or thunder, they are moved to the Ossining Public Library.
Sweeter than Honey performs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and Pete Herger takes the stage at 8 p.m. this Friday, Aug. 19.